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How to Pack for an Australian Road Trip

This article has been contributed by one of our guest bloggers.

Whether you want to hug the coastline from Sydney to Cairns, venture into the heart of the Barossa Valley, drive the fabled Nullarbor, or visit the sacred site of Uluru, Australia is one of the best countries in the world for a road trip.

Each road trip offers a different, once-in-a-lifetime experience. But it can also be a testing journey into the unknown as well.

For this reason, it is important to be prepared and pack accordingly for your adventure. After all, you could be on the road for upwards of a week or more. So, you should be prepared for most eventualities.

But what does this actually entail?

If you are wondering how to pack for an Australian road trip of any length, here is a list of items you would be well advised to take with you.

(For your convenience, we have outlined these items in six different sections).

Car Essentials

Before embarking on your road trip, it is worth getting your car serviced by a fully qualified mechanic. However, even if you have done this, it is worth taking the following items with you.

1. Spare tyres

Depending on the length of your journey it is a good idea to take a second spare tyre, as you just don’t know when you might need it.

2. Car manual

Even if you have had your car serviced prior to your trip, there is still the potential for your vehicle to break down or malfunction.

For this reason, it is a good idea to have your manual with you, to identify and potentially fix any issue that might arise.

3. Roadside emergency kit

As well as the car manual, a roadside emergency kit is another essential thing to take with you, because you never know when you might get a flat tyre, the engine might overheat, or you will be involved in an accident.

You can buy ready-made full emergency kits from the likes of Repco and Super Cheap Auto. However, if you would prefer to create your own, be sure to include the likes of a basic toolkit, jumper cables, battery booster cables and coolant.

Communication Devices

As you will be doing a lot of driving, it is important to have good communication devices at your disposal.

4. Smartphone

A mobile phone is essential for not just communication, but also as a form of entertainment and an information resource.

Be sure to bring your smartphone, Bluetooth kit, USB cords, power banks and phone chargers with you. Doing so could literally save your life - or someone else's - in an emergency, as well as a lot of hassle overall.

Make sure too that you have plenty of credit on your device. 

5. Portable Wi-Fi

You might find it useful to bring a portable Wi-Fi device with you, which can keep you connected when your smartphone service drops out.

6. Satellite Communicator

For those planning to head into the outback and out of mobile phone range, it is a good idea to bring either a satellite phone, satellite communicator like a ZOLEO, InReach or Spot.

At the very least take a personal locator beacon so you can be rescued in the event of an emergency.

As well as good communication devices, you should bring the following navigational tools on your road trip too.

7. GPS and Paper maps

If your car doesn’t have a satellite navigation system, it is worth investing in one for your road trip.

Alternatively, you can use Google Maps on your smartphone as this should be an invaluable source to guide you on the drive.

However, in places where cell phone signals are weak, you might not be able to access your system or app.

Should this be the case, it is worth having an app like Hema 4X4 Explorer which enable syou to download maps so that it can work offline anywhere in Australia

It's also a good idea to carry paper maps with you in case the electronic version let you down.

8. Compass

If all else fails, it is worth bringing a compass with you in case you get lost, particularly in an area where there is no mobile phone signal.

Medical and Personal supplies

Whilst on the road you should take a range of medical and personal supplies with you to keep you prepared for most contingencies. These include the following:

9. Medical first aid kit

It is crucial to have a medical first aid kit with you, as you never know what emergency you might be faced with.

Just like with car repair kits you can buy these medical kits ready-made. However, should you want to make one up yourself, be sure to include plenty of plasters and bandages, hand sanitiser, pain-relief tablets, burns cream, antiseptic cream, antiseptic wipes, insect repellent, electrolytes and scissors/tweezers.

10. Personal care kit

To avoid feeling ‘icky’, you should also bring a personal care kit on your road trip with you.

This includes all your toiletries like toothbrush, toothpaste, face cream, hair gel, lip balm and lots of toilet paper.

Be sure to bring a good supply of sunscreen with high SPF, as well as feminine hygiene products, a hairbrush, deodorant and anything that will make you feel human.

Don't forget to carry enough prescription medications to see you through.

11. Comfort kit

As well as a medical first aid kit and a personal care kit, it is worth bringing a comfort kit with you. 

This could include pillows, sunglasses, blankets, reusable water bottles and breath mints – pretty much all non-essential things, that will help you to enjoy a much more comfortable journey.

Entertainment

As exciting as road trips can be, they do involve long stretches of driving, often with scenery that can be quite repetitive. So, to stave off the threat of boredom, be sure you have the following available to you.

12. Music

If you would rather not rely on the weird and wonderful world of local radio, you’ll need to have your favourite tunes at the ready.

One of the best things to do is compile a Spotify playlist which you can listen to as you drive.

If you subscribe to Spotify Premium, you will also be able to download your playlists. Which means you will be able to listen to them without needing to be connected to Wi-Fi.

13. Electronic Device

As well as your phone, it is also worth bringing an iPad, laptop or another similar device with you.

In the same way as you can download your Spotify playlists, you can also download movies onto your chosen device.

This is especially useful if you have bored children sitting in the back who could bore easily.

14. Camera

While you can always take photos with your phone, it is worth bringing your camera (and USB leads) with you on your road trip.

Doing so will enable you to not only capture the once-in-a-lifetime experience with your eyes, but also with your camera too.

When you return home, you can even create artwork with your best photos, which could be hung up on your walls, to remember the road trip.

15. Reading Material

Given how long the drive is, it's worth bringing a bit of light reading with you in the form of books or magazines, for when you are not doing the driving.

Miscellaneous items

When deciding on how to pack for an Australian Road Trip you will also need to bring these other miscellaneous items.

16. Cash and cards

Be sure to bring cash, as well as bank and credit cards with you. The cash will come in handy at some remote outlets that might be cash-only.

As a backup to your bank and credit cards, consider downloading them to Google Wallet. If you do, you will be able to use them, should you ever misplace your wallet.

17. Clothing

Depending on where you are going, you might need to pack a wide range of clothing to cover all types of weather – including those for warm or cold climates, as well as waterproof clothing, should it rain, and evening wear.

Try to consider what weather conditions you may experience, and if you will need to bring items like swimwear and towels, hiking boots, or a ski jacket with you as well.

If you need anything specifically for your road trip, Maplestore has a good range of outdoor wear here

18. Spare set of car keys

Something a lot of people don’t do on their road trip is bringing a spare set of car keys with them. This is a particularly good idea if you have an older car.

Ideally you should keep the key in your pocket, or handbag at all times. This way you can easily access it, should you ever accidentally lock your main set in the car.

19. Food and drink

Be sure to take plenty of food, snacks and drink with you on your road trip.

Whilst you will no doubt eat out every now and then, it is good to have a supply to call upon between towns, and in particular, should you break down in the middle of nowhere.

Good snacks to take are the ones that will last the journey. Think tins of tuna, instant noodles, crackers and granola bars.

If you want to eat fresher food, you will also need to bring an esky with you to keep it cool. Make sure you also pack several full bottles of drinking water in it as well.

20. Garbage bags

Garbage bags are another good item to bring on your road trip that many people tend to overlook.

Not only are they great for storing your rubbish until such time as you find a bin, but they are also excellent for separating your dirty clothes from your clean ones.

You can even use them to carry picnic food whenever you stop off somewhere, as opposed to taking the whole big esky.

Final Thought

Now that you know how to pack for an Australian road trip, the only thing left to do is decide where to go.

There are several places you can head to in the lucky country, and if you are feeling adventurous, and have the time available, you could even make it a real trip of a lifetime by driving around the whole of Australia.

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